The traditional approach to evangelism, according to Ed Stetzer of Christianity Today, has started with presenting the Gospel to unbelievers. The new approach, he says, starts with getting them involved with the church. In the course of their relationships in the community of Christians, they will come to believe.
He sums up the two models this way: Old: Believe, Become, Belong. New: Belong, Believe, Become.
For more details, read the excerpts and the article linked after the jump.
As a Lutheran, I do see that bringing an unbelieving friend to church is a good way to evangelize that person, since a pastor, by virtue of his call, is going to proclaim the Gospel better than I can. And yet, the church is a community of Christians, not something non-Christians can fully enter into, even if they wanted to, and I’m not sure they do.
And what makes a non-believer into a believer is the Gospel. Even if the non-believer becomes, to some measure, a part of the community and comes to have Christian friends who are good influences, at some point that friend–or the pastor, or someone–is going to have to tell the person about Christ. (Actually, bring the person to the point of repentance through the Law, so as to make the hearer receptive to the Gospel.) At that point, the “old” model would seem to reassert itself.
Actually, both models seem inadequate. Baptism is nowhere mentioned. Nor is Law, which leads to Gospel. The very breaking down of the process into steps seems to go against the organic, unique, and varied way the Holy Spirit works.
What do you think about these approaches?